Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Super Mario Material Girl

The Bird and the Bee are an LA-based band with the tendency to produce quirky nuggets of dreampop that are a little bit jazz and a little bit brilliant.

Previous examples of their oeuvre include Love Letter To Japan and F-cking Boyfriend. We first heard them in 2008 on Katy Perry's intro tape, which turned out to be the highlight of Katy Perry's concert. Such is the hand you are dealt in this poker game called pop.

ANYWAY - The Bird and the Bee are 50% Greg Kurstin (Beck, Lily Allen, Kylie, The Wanted) and 50% Inara George (winsome, cool, languid). Quite by accident, they have recorded a bleepy bloopy Super Nintendo Entertainment System chipset version of Madonna's Material Girl. According to Inara: "The reason why we covered this song is not very romantic. Greg thought our publishers had asked him to cover the song... but it turned out that he was mistaken."

And thus I present to you my favourite mistake of all time. Apart from my third daughter*.

Material Girl by thebirdandthebee

There are many more goodies like this on The Bird And The Bee's SoundCloud page and their official website.

* Before you leave angry comments, I don't really have any children. At least, none that I'm prepared to acknowledge without a court-ordered DNA test.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Stop everything and listen to this

Nerina Pallot, esteemed popsmith and Kylie collaborator, has made a rather good record with Bernard Butler. The lead single is called Put Your Hands Up and it sounds like this.

Nerina Pallot - Put Your Hands Up (preview)

For now, you will have to take my word for it that this snippet merely hints at the magnificence of the entire song. For the sake of clarity, my word is "flabbergast".

In the meantime, here's Nerina playing an acoustic version of Put Your Hands Up.

The single is released on 22nd May. I think it's safe to say I'll be following any developments on the Nerina Pallot front with eagle eyes and owl ears.

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Justice is served

For those of you who thought Daft Punk's Tron soundtrack wasn't Daft Punk-y enough, here are fellow French dance duo Justice to save the day.

Created for an Adidas commercial, their new track Civilization, combines ridiculous prog rock lyrics about the ascent of man, the keyboard riff from The Who's Baba O'Reilly, and a chorus that "pays tribute to" (totally rips off) Daft Punk's Aerodynamic.

Neither progressive nor astonishing, it will almost certainly sound better live.


Justice - Civilization

The single is due on 4th April, with a full album planned for later this year.

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Monday, March 28, 2011

Jamie Woon will make you swoon

Jo Whiley lowered the curtain on her 18-year tenure on Radio 1 this weekend with a few sniffles, a visit from Dave Grohl and a special song by Dr Karl Kennedy off of Neighbours.

I know a lot of people are sniffy about Jo - usually the sort of person who thinks she "betrayed indie" by presenting a daytime radio show and playing Kylie - but I always found her a sincere, human presence on a station filled with braying gasbags.

The Live Lounge segment was born on Jo's mid-morning programme and it was a fitting tribute that her final weekend featured one of the best performances in a very long time. OK, it didn't quite scale the heights of Leona Lewis's first ever stab at Run, but it certainly erased the memory of Florence and the Machine's screechy, joyless rendition of Halo.

The session came courtesy of Jamie Woon, with his melifluous voice and his interesting facial hair. First up, he played his current single, Lady Luck. Following swiftly afterwards was an acoustic guitar revamp of Adele's Someone Like You (note that he reaches for the high notes in the chorus, which even Adele avoided in her spookily brilliant Brit Awards performance).

Both were smoother than a freshly shaved baby.

So goodbye, Jo Whiley, I will miss you. Except that you'll now be working in the same building as me and I'll probably spill tea all over you in the lift.

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New music: Austra - Lose It

Here's something interesting: A former child opera star launches a pop career, changes her mind, recruits two like-minded musicians, signs record deal, proclaims: "All I ever wanted was to be a gay band."

That's the best potted biography I've seen in months. The singer in question is Canadian chorister Kate Stelmanis, and her new band is called Austra.

Named after the Latvian goddess of light, they're influenced by lungsmiths like Nina Simone, Roy Orbinson and Bjork. They stew those theatrical vocals with black magic and grizzly minor key synths, to create a sticky licorice twist of dancepop. Or, as the record company would have it, "a masterpiece suitable for both ritual incantations and clubs".

Either way, the descriptions aren't doing the music any justice. To quote Depeche Mode: "Words are meaningless. And forgettable." And, to quote Shannon, "Just let the music play".

So, without further ado, here's Austra's latest single, Lose It, which is out on 9th May.

Austra - Lose It

And here, for the sake of reference, is Kate's solo version from two years ago.

Katie Stelmanis - Lose It

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Friday, March 25, 2011

Born This Way Of Glory

This country retooling of Born This Way has got the internet so excited this morning it's wet its pants.

Fair enough.

Lady Gaga - Born This Way (The Country Road Version)

But now that it's over, I find myself craving this...

Jon Bon Jovi - Blaze Of Glory

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

TV On The Radio make video without puppies

New York indie rock ninjas TV On The Radio have been making great music since 2001. Like many people, however, I only stumbled across them with the release of their fourth, and best, LP Dear Science a couple of years ago.

Critics generally put Dear Science's success down to two things: Dave Sitek's generous, multi-layered production, and a serious dose of "da fonk". In other words, TV On The Radio had made indie music you could dance to. In yet more other words, they'd stumbled across the holy grail of not-crap guitar bands: Decent songs.

Then Dave Sitek went off to sprinkle his magic dandruff over the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' It's Blitz! (amazing) and released a solo album under the name Maximum Balloon (doubly amazing). There were rumours the band had split up... rumours which they did little to dispel. Then suddenly, out of nowhere, a new song popped up.

It's called Will Do and it precedes a full album, Nine Types of Light, due in April. (Fact: Those nine types are Visible Light, Candle Light, Coke Lite, Deee-Lite, Have you got a light? Potato Blight, Starlight, It'll Be All-light On The Night, and Po-lite-ness never killed anyone, you know.)

The video for Will Do features the band strapping on virtual reality headsets to play virtual reality instruments. It is all very impressive, in a "didn't we stop talking about virtual reality in 1992?" kind of way, but they have stupidly missed an obvious promotional opportunity: Virtual reality puppies.



Am I wrong or am I wrong? I am not wrong.

TV On The Radio - Will Do

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Listen: John Legend covers Adele

Four months after it first hit the airwaves, I'm still not tired of Adele's Rolling In The Deep. The Jamie xx remix was a triumph, and now John Legend has laid down a beautiful a capella version of the track. His interpretation adds a haunting, spiritual choir that brings an element of despair to Adele's defiant warcry.

Pure joy for your ears.

John Legend - Rolling In The Deep

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Ferreira Rocher

Last time we met Sky Ferreira, back in August 2010, she told us she had double-jointed elbows and a four-octave vocal range.

This was around the time the 18-year-old released One, a moody, oscillating feedback loop of electropop that slowly seeped its way into my iTunes most-played list - but never quite managed the chart impact it deserved, stalling at 64 in the UK.

So, what's been going on since then?

1) Sky's album, due in January, has been delayed :(

2) Calvin Klein has snapped her up as the "face" of its pants (and jeans and swimwear and perfume).

3) She has entertained Twitter with pearls of wisdom such as "My pigtails hurt".

But now, at last, there's some new music. Given that Sky's producer credits are a veritable who's who of brilliant pop (Greg Kurstin, Klas Ã…hlund, Dallas Austin, Paul Epworth, Bloodshy & Avant) this is a good thing.

Her new EP is called As If. It's out now in the US, but seems to have fallen down the back of the iTunes sofa in the UK. Nonetheless, the five-song sampler can be heard online until someone at Apple remembers to plump the cushions.

The lead track is Sex Rules, whose sparse and punchy 80s sound brings to mind Kylie's collaborations with Calvin Harris. However, it's a struggle to ignore the toe-curling, innuendo-laden lyrics... A task made inifintely harder by the presence of this lyric video.

Sky Ferreira - Sex Rules

Other tracks on the EP include the surprisingly-not-bollocks dubstep ballad Traces, and the bizarre 108, which is about having sex with a Centenarian. No, really.

But the standout track has to be 99 Tears, which is the actual sound of a teenager strapping 18 tons of semtex to The Noisette's Don't Upset The Rhythm and blasting it into hyperspace. I approve heartily.

Sky Ferreira - 99 Tears

Hopefully the EP will surface on UK iTunes soon!

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Viewz through a window

Readers, would you like to see some sexy boudoir scenes? A naked couple tumbling 'twixt the sheets? A sensual massage in the shower? A tender, loving shot of a pork sausage?

Then YOU ARE IN LUCK because someone called J Viewz has released a video that's hotter than a kiln. A really, really slutty kiln. In a bra.

The song the video's "servicing" (phwoarrr, etc) is called Oh, Something's Quiet and you can see why the director chose vaseline voyeurism as his mise en scene. Vocalist Kelli Scarr purrs with post-coital bliss, and drumbeats drip over the track like hot butter. It all sounds wonderfully filthy, - even when the lyrics contain such mood-killers as, "I'm wearing your pants".

WARNING: The following video contains shots of a lady's bum cleft.

J Viewz - Oh, Something's Quiet

J Viewz' forthcoming album is one of those modern things where you pay in advance to help offset the cost of recording. He's being a bit more generous than most, however. For the price of admission ($15), you get a physical copy of the album, plus all the downloads you can handle - vocal takes, remixes, videos, uncompressed WAV files. You can join up and follow the work in progress on the J Viewz website.

Nifty, huh?

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Imagine all the people, jumping in harmony

Yesterday, mrsdiscopop announced she had eaten a "grapefruit mint". This cornucopia of WTF is an actual, real confection that they sell in sweet shops. Mrsdiscopop was not enthusiastic, and described it as "tasting like satan's bumhole".

Today's song, a mash-up of John Lennon's Imagine and Van Halen's Jump, is a grapefruit mint for your ears. But in a good way.

Imagine-a-jump-john-lennon-vs.-van-halen by jackstanleywp

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Monday, March 21, 2011

So, what did I miss?

Right then, back to work.

It's always weird, returning to the office after a fortnight away. You've been off discovering the world, looking at mystical ancient ruins, sampling new cuisines and falling asleep in the afternoon (mainly falling asleep, to be honest). The passage of time stretches before you like an excellent pizza dough.

That feeling was even more acute on this holiday, as the world seemed to accelerate around me. An earthquake? A tsunami? A war?!! I wouldn't have been surprised if I'd come back to the UK and discovered Justin Bieber had reached puberty, shaved off his eyebrows, taken up heroin, sacrificed a goat and drowned in a vat of sugar puffs.

But no. To regular people, existence continued at its usual, languid pace. There were apparently only two weekends, in their regular position. And Justin Bieber's puberty was chemically delayed 'til the end of his tour so that the merchandise would remain relevant.

And what about the crazy, hedonistic world of the music industry? Nothing. Not a sausage. Not even Barry Manilow releasing daily teaser clips of his new video. In fact, the best clips I can summon up from the last fortnight are:

1) The new single by The Joy Formidable
2) Ellie Goulding doing a cover of The Knife's Heartbeats

Don't get me wrong, both of them are excellent. But this is hardly the triumphant cacophony of two weeks new music that I was hoping for. So apols for that.

The Joy Formidable - Whirring

Ellie Goulding - Heartbeats

PS: If I've missed anything then why don't you bloody well EMAIL ME? The address is at the bottom of the page.

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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Pause button

Hello reader,

I am going to Malta. Over the next seven days, other pop blogs will continue to bring you rolling updates on the new Britney Spears album, while Adele will remain the sole artist allowed to appear on UK radio.

Me, I've put Stevie Wonder's Innervisions on my iPod and I'm off to the sun.

To tide you over, here is the video for Yasmin's new single Finish Line which, as I may have mentioned before, is totally brillo pads.

See you in a week,
Mark / mrdiscopop

Yasmin - Finish Line

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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Could this be the hip-hop album of the year??

I'd certainly like a peek at Jeymes Samuel's contacts book. As a producer, he's worked with The Gorillaz, Ben Hudson and KT Tunstall. As a film-maker, he's cast Ian Brown and Mos Def in his upcoming project Buskers - The Movie. And, while he's finishing that off, he's put together an album with Tori Amos, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Roisin Murphy. The best celebrity number in my phone is Patrick Moore...

Samuel's musical project is called The Bullits and, as the name might suggest, it's inspired by classic movies and TV shows. They've done a tribute to Danny DeVito's 70s sitcom Taxi (amazing), while Roisin has re-imagined the theme tune to Roger Moore's pre-Bond spy show The Persuaders.

The Bullits feat Roisin Murphy - The Persuaders

As you can see, the feel is cinematic hip-hop. Gorgeous string samples with lashings of melodrama - the perfect backdrop for some down and dirty rap... Exactly the sort of thing Handsome Boy Modelling School have excelled at in the past, in fact.

The album will apparently be a concept record, starting Lucy Liu as Amelia Sparks, "a woman who's on death row, and she's being interviewed before she gets killed."

"I'm on the entire album," Liu told a US chat show, "it's like spoken word narrative. She's done the entire interview and basically he [Jeymes] cuts in and out of it. He's basically a genius."

There's only one track with Liu's vocals online right now - but it's a corker. If you locked Andre 3000 in a room with John Barry, Burt Bacharach, Marlene Dietrich and fed them litres and litres of fizzy pop, this is what the result would be.

The Bullits feat Jay Electronica & Lucy Liu - Close Your Eyes

I genuinely can't wait to see how this one pans out.

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Monday, March 7, 2011

Excuse me, but is that your girl?

This charming young man is called Mattie Safer. You might recognise him if you're the sort of person who stands around at indie gigs looking at the bass guitarist. I'm not one of those people, so I didn't know he was the bassist from The Bravery until someone said "This is Mattie Safer and he used to play bass in The Bravery"

Now The Bravery are a band I don't really have any memory of. After a quick bit of wikipedia and YouTube "research", I recall that they sounded like The Killers rogering Joy Division and their singer had a ridiculous quiff, but they largely passed me by. Looking at their UK chart record, it seems they probably passed you by, too. [UPDATE: It turns out it was The Rapture, not The Bravery (see the comments below). Thankfully, this doesn't disqualify any of the above points, with the exception of the one about the quiff].

So why are we talking about Mattie Safer? Well, because he's put out a disturbingly good club track by the name of Is That Your Girl? First time I heard it, I thought it was Pharrell Williams freestyling over a funky slice of minimalist techno. It's that good.

Mattie's lyrics might have come straight from the Charlie Sheen school of subtlety, but he's got his tongue firmly planted in his cheek, and the music will literally make your jaw drop.

So no-one comes out of this looking good - but the facial contortions will be worth it. Have a listen.

Is That Your Girl? (feat. Telli from Ninjasonik) by mattiesafer

If you want to see a home video of Mattie Safer performing the song over an instrumental, then (1) You're a braver man than I am, and (2) Here it is.

More information on

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Friday, March 4, 2011

Video updates from Yelle AND Saint Saviour

Previously on Discopop Directory, I described Yelle's new single Safari Disco Club as "experimental gallic dance music", which makes it sound chin-strokingly worthy. Apologies for that, because it is in fact brilliantly bonkers. As this video will now demonstrate.

YELLE - Safari Disco Club / Que veux-tu

Also previously on Discopop Directory, I summoned all my analytical powers and described Saint Saviour's new single This Ain't No Hymn as "atmospheric". It's a genuine and heartfelt observation grounded in truth and I stand by it.

Saint Saviour has also done a video. It is one of those videos where people cover themselves in fairy lights and do interpretive dance in a tunnel. I'd concentrate on the song, if I were you.

Saint Saviour - This Ain't No Hymn

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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Sara Bareilles goes cameo crazy

Piano pop princess Sara Barielles is back with a new song called Uncharted. Once I'd got over the fact it wasn't a tribute to Nathan Drake (geek joke!), it turned out to be a zippy little kitchen sink anthem in the style of The Benjamin Folds Five.

And guess what? Ben Folds turns up in the video, lip-syncing to the track as though he'd written it all along (he didn't). You will also get to see Pharrell Williams, Josh Groban, Tegan And Sara, Ryan Tedder and many, many more people with human faces mouthing the words that Sara Bareilles wrote and sang into a microphone.

Yes, it's exactly the same idea as Nickelback's Rockstar video, but the song is infinitely less hateful.

Sara Bareilles - Uncharted

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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A band called Fight Like Apes

I'll keep this brief, as I'm typing one-handed after an ill-advised "stunt" on my bike this morning, but here's a new indie/pop/alternative band I like, and I think you will, too.

Like Jedward, Guinness and planting a saucy kiss on a clammy rock, they are immensely popular in Ireland. They are called Fight Like Apes and their last album was nominated for the Irish equivalent of the Mercury Prize. A new record is on it's way next month and it goes by the fantastic title The Body Of Christ And The Legs Of Tina Turner.

Here's the single, which is called Jenny Kelly, and is quite marvellously fruity.

Fight Like Apes - Jenny Kelly

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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

M.I.A's got The Right Stuff

Last year's /\/\/\Y/\ album was crushed under the weight of expectation. M.I.A. seemed to be trying to second-guess her audience, acting like a political (and sonic) provocateur because it was expected of her; making futile, brattish attempts to counter accusations of selling out by marrying a millionaire; before finally letting loose on songs like Teqkilla.

Since that troubled third album hit the streets, not to mention a barrage of critical brickbats, M.I.A's material has become infinitely more interesting. First up, she realeased the Vicki Leekx mixtape (it rhymes with Wikileaks, you see) on New Year's Day. It was a mixed bag - an hallucinogenic collage of clips, beats and song fragments - but tracks like Gen N.E.Y. and Bad Girls saw M.I.A. triumphantly reacquaint herself with melody.

Over the weekend, another new song leaked. This one's called Zig Zag and it is absolutely the sort of M.I.A. track I can get behind... Flirty, fun, playful, catty, catchy and sexy. Harking back to the 80s with a huge Roland TR-808 drum kick, it's an eccentric, cosmopolitan playground chant. Better still, it interpolates the chorus to the NKOTB's The Right Stuff.

Welcome back, pop M.I.A. We missed you.

M.I.A. - Zig Zag Co-write by AntWhiting

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